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Archive for December, 2009

Email Marketing Tactics #7: Provide Next Steps

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Every email in an email marketing campaign should provide a next step for recipients to engage the company.  There should be between one and three options for a next step.

If an email is informational or content driven it might have several possible ways for a recipient to interact.  Some common next steps might be a request for more information, seeing company activities or events, or a promotional offer.

If an email is advertising a product or service or specific event then it should have one next step.  That next step should be a call to action that prompts the recipient to convert (buy or register).

A next step is always a single action.  In most scenarios a recipient should be able to make the desired conversion in 3 or less clicks.  1 is most common.  Three is only acceptable if they are customizing an order for a complicated product or service.

The email might have a secondary next step for getting more information depending on the complication of the product, service, or event.  However this is not the primary next step of conversion.  A converted recipient means they have provided information about themselves and/or payment for something in return. If the recipient doesn’t provide anything, it’s not a true conversion.

Linking to a homepage is by far the most common error in next steps.  A recipient linking to a home page is not a conversion.  They might gather data and then convert but they are equally as likely to be lost and immediately leave the site.  Recipients shouldn’t have to navigate to their next step.  Everything they need should be instantaneously available.  Landing pages are a common technique to provide all pertinent information in one place.

We all get bombarded with messaging and email marketing recipients usually have other things to do besides reading your communication.  A smooth next step ensures that a conversion provides little friction. When a recipient decides to engage further with your company, next steps point them directly to what they expressed interest in and takes as little time as possible for them to obtain it.

Email Marketing Tactics #6: Track and Measure

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Tracking and measuring is an often overlooked piece of email marketing.  Everyone likes to talk about the data that is available through email marketing but few people actually use the information to improve their email campaigns.  Track and measure your email campaigns success to optimize it for maximum returns.

The first step in tracking and measuring is getting comfortable with the metrics.  Open rates and click throughs are a good starting place.  This helps define how engaged the audience is with the email campaign.  Likewise opt-outs and SPAM complaints are a good indicator of how far off the mark the campaign might be. 

The real value is in analyzing and using these numbers.  An email campaign should really be an ongoing test.  Testing is always a good idea but even the actual email sends serve as tests.  Small changes should be made throughout to see how it effects opens, click throughs, and ultimately conversions.

By tracking and measuring a lot of guesswork is removed from email marketing.  Objective analysis of the data is the only way to ensure ongoing improvement.

Email Marketing Tactic #5: Contacts

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

An email marketing campaign is only as good as the list it’s sent to.  Of course Tactic #4 covers getting names responsibly but maintaining contacts must also be actively managed.  After all, just because a person subscribes to the list doesn’t mean they are agreeing to receive it forever.  Maintenance efforts are necessary to ensure your email marketing subscribers continually receive the content they expect.

All email campaigns are a bit different.  Simple email campaigns, like a monthly newsletter, have an easier time of maintaining contacts.  It’s hard to get off track when the content is singular and the frequency is low.

However, as campaigns get more complex, more effort needs to be placed into contact maintenance.  This is typically achieved through list segmentation.  When a campaign begins to have multiple topics or user groups it is imperative that contacts are distributed into appropriate groups.  Furthermore, segmentation can get complex.  A subscriber might fall into multiple segments depending on what they desire or their subscriber profile.

As a rule of thumb contact maintenance through segmentation should be kept to meaningful groups.  Client and prospects (Past purchasers vs. first time purchasers) is a common delimiter.  Segments by topic is another.  As a warning, don’t start segmenting too granularly unless it serves a function.  Unnecessary segmentation only increases send complication and raises the chances for mistakes.

Map out a strategy for contact management that allows for efficiently running the email campaign but breaks subscribers down into meaningful groups that ensures they are receiving the content they desire.